Author Jean Hansen is a nature enthusiast who grew up in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. She is a specialist in elementary education with an emphasis of study in developmental learning and gifted education. She has more than three decades of experience working with children that have benefitted from her understanding of unique learning styles. Jean and her husband have two grown daughters. The couple lives near Detroit with their two dogs, Boomer the Bichon and Siberian Husky, Storm.
Jean created The Gift of Time in collaboration with her sister, Jill Tolfa. Jill has a Master of Arts degree in international and multicultural education, concentrating in literature for children and young adults. Jill is dedicated to building cultural competency to foster a more empathetic and peaceful world. She enjoys blending her practical art training with educational literature.
The sisters come from a family of educators, and they believe this is the foundation of their love of storytelling and learning. Their mother was a special education teacher and encouraged them try new things and seek unique experiences- including writing this book.
Jean insisted on simplicity for The Gift of Time. “I asked my sister to make the illustrations quirky and unique and in the same style as the drawings she made with my girls when they were very young. Jill always had the girls creating works of art, and fairies were their favorite. I asked Jill for pencil sketches and had them organized onto pages. I later added watercolors to bring the story to life.
Jean felt that the only way to recapture the childlike innocence in the drawing from her daughters’ childhood was to collaborate with her sister. “Besides, it is easier to be bossy with your little sister to get sketches redrawn until you are happy. Working on this book across the country was a challenge but it helped keep us connected on a project we loved.”